If you've ever been interested in a guy and tried to subtly hint that you like him, you know exactly how dense men can be. The fresh research from Bucknell University doesn't tell you anything new.
The study, in press in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, has found that men are a bit thick when it comes to opening lines. If you want to flirt, it's best to be direct with them - go figure.
The researchers noted that previous research had looked into what pick-up lines or conversation starters worked best for men trying to date women. Women preferred lines that displayed personal qualities and cultural accomplishments and responded worst when the guy directly requested sex or used sexual humor. Considering the different approaches men and women often take to dating, the researchers wondered what differences there might be if the roles are reversed. What opening lines work best to chat up a guy?
So they asked 40 women for things they have said or would say to a man to indicate to him that they are interested in dating or spending time with him. The lines fell into 10 opening line categories: directly asking on a date, hinting at a date, statements of commonalities, insistence on calling or giving of a phone number, compliments, directly asking about relationship status, statements of personal interest, sexual humor, questions of familiarity, and saying a subtle “hello”. They then took the list and tried them out on 38 women and 32 men, asking the participants to rate how effective the lines would be.
The men, go figure, preferred direct lines which asked them on a date, followed by giving phone numbers. Unlike the women, however, sexual humor didn't fall to the bottom of the list. The worst way to try to get a date? Being subtle. Subtle "hellos" like smiles or saying "How's it going?" scored the lowest, followed closely by statements of familiarity like "Do I know you from somewhere?"
Not shockingly, the women thought that their subtle cues would do better than they actually would. Women thought that giving their phone number would not go over very well, when the men actually preferred it second only to directly asking about a date. In fact, the women thought the best way to chat up a guy was to talk about common interests - which men placed 5th. Basically, women think men will respond to the same things they respond best to - the men think differently.
Men prefer women to be direct. Even saying something like "Your shirt matches my bedspread, therefore you belong in my bed" works better than just saying "Hello" or "How are you?" Men, it seems, like things to be overwhelmingly obvious. The research, however, didn't look into the reasons behind their preference. I personally think it's because men simply don't pick up on subtle cues. They need to be beat over the head with things. That could just be my own opinion, of course...
Really, though, the fact that men don't respond well to subtlety isn't that surprising. What is surprising is that so many women haven't figured this out already.
Joel Wade, T., Butrie, L., & Hoffman, K. (2009). Women’s direct opening lines are perceived as most effective☆ Personality and Individual Differences DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2009.02.016